Aaron Connolly rounds off a fine afternoon for Brighton
Ireland forward scores his side’s third as impressive Seagulls ease past Newcastle
Aaron Connolly scores Brighton’s third against Newcastle. Photograph: Alex Pantling/PA
Newcastle United 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 3
Whenever Tariq Lamptey ran at them it seemed as if Newcastle United’s players were operating with their boots laced together.
To say Steve Bruce’s side were terrorised by Graham Potter’s teenage right wing-back is an understatement and the resultant psychological damage could take some time to repair. If Newcastle’s unhinging raised all sorts of awkward questions about the team’s suitability for a 4-4-2 formation while also serving as a reminder that relegation struggles on Tyneside may not yet be things of the past, it also offered further vindication of the radical stylistic overhaul Potter has presided over on the south coast. Not even Yves Bissouma’s late sending off could strip the sheen from a most accomplished visiting performance.
Overhead the clouds were slate grey and looked heavy with impending rain but Brighton enjoyed the brightest of beginnings. Straight from kick-off it became apparent Bruce’s 4-4-2 formation was not ideally suited to its left-sided midfield component, Allan Saint-Maximin. Particularly on a day when the Frenchman was up against such an attack minded wing-back as Brighton’s 19-year-old.
Saint-Maximin possesses many strengths but defending is far from his forte. Meanwhile Lamptey has a winger’s skills and used them to help his side swiftly assume a two-goal lead.
First, Saint-Maximin brought him down in the box, prefacing a fourth-minute penalty converted by Neil Maupay. Then, four minutes later, Lamptey cued up Leandro Trossard and his cross was slid beyond Karl Darlow by Maupay, who had sneaked beyond Jamal Lascelles after blindsiding the centre-half from close range.
Initially Maupay’s second goal was disallowed for a perceived offside against Trossard but that decision was overturned by a VAR check, leaving Brighton celebrating once more.
Had Javier Manquillo not made an incisive, last-ditch, almost certainly goal-preventing tackle on Graham Potter’s right wing-back Newcastle would have fallen even further behind. If that was a reprieve for Bruce it was a minor one as his side were all over the place and seemingly petrified of Lamptey.
Jamal Lewis, Newcastle’s left-back, was finding him a tricky adversary and needed to watch his step after being rightly booked for a mistimed tackle on the England Under-21 international. With Jonjo Shelvey having also been given a yellow card for a similarly miscued challenge on the same opponent, something had to change.
Bruce duly ordered his wingers to swap flanks, leaving Lamptey up against the more defensively resilient Jeff Hendrick. Undeterred, the star of the show simply decided to remind everyone he can tackle too courtesy of an impeccably timed challenge on a goalbound Callum Wilson following the striker’s connection with a stellar Shelvey through ball.
With a limping Saint-Maximin having been replaced by Ryan Fraser and Lascelles booked for a foul on Maupay Bruce’s grim demeanour was almost as forbidding as the sky above him. As half-time beckoned Newcastle’s manager had Darlow to thank for saving smartly with his legs after Steven Alzate’s creation of a chance for – guess who?
Bar somehow managing to slip a sedative into Lamptey’s half-time drink it was hard to imagine what Bruce could possibly do in order to turn the tide. Something had to change and he responded by replacing the peripheral Andy Carroll with the more mobile Miguel Almirón at the interval.
Then, in the 57th minute, Newcastle’s manager must have felt that that maybe, just maybe, there was a God after all. Suddenly it seemed as if Lamptey had taken one kick too many and Potter took the possibly sensible decision to send Dan Burn on in his place.
As the man of the match – by several country miles – walked off to applause from the Brighton contingent before receiving a series of embraces from his manager and assorted coaches, renewed hope flickered for Newcastle who might have pulled one back had Wilson’s header from an inviting Almirón cross not flown off target.
Potter attempted to confuse his hosts by switching to a back four and his side were unlucky not to extend their advantage when Trossard’s thunderous shot struck a post with Darlow wrong-footed.
Aaron Connolly quickly showed Trossard how to finish though, curling an imperious shot from the edge of the area past the home goalkeeper after Maupay rolled the ball into his path.
It dictated that Bissouma’s subsequent sending off for allowing his boot to catch Lewis in the face – a decision upgraded from a yellow card to a straight red by the referee, Kevin Friend, after he was invited to review it by looking at the VAR replay screen – represented a mere academic footnote. - Guardian